Filter

Sign up for our newsletter

Recieve a selection of our favorite articles the first Friday of every month!

Misc Entries

Video  |  Misc

Truth in Catvertising

14 Nov 2011

We’ve been thinking of hiring a catvertising company to help us with our new brand strategy in 2012.

Photo  |  Misc

Start with a warning

1 Jun 2011

Start with a warning

While creating a new google group I was directed to the newly formed group page. I was pleasantly greeted by a warning and disclaimer that a feature that I have yet to use will be deprecated in a few months.

I wonder if it would have taken them much more time to add some logic to only display this if a) the group has used this functionality and b) it’s not a brand new group.

Additionally, if I click on the “Download Pages” link… my browser happily downloads a zip file, which contains an empty index.txt file.

…it’s unfortunate that they’re deprecating this useful functionality.

Photo  |  Misc

Quality Assurance

25 May 2011

Quality Assurance

While wrapping up an iteration for a client, the team was caught testing out one of the new video chat features.

Photo  |  Misc

I have no friends

15 Jul 2010

I have no friends

Back in March I signed up for an account on Venmo because people said it was going to be a game changer. I thought I’d give it a go and planned to take a second look when time permitted. I haven’t found the time, but since signing up my only other experience with them has been a weekly email to remind me that:

  • I have received no money
  • I have sent no money
  • I have no friends
  • I am not active
  • I need to make these emails stop showing up… but who has the time?

I don’t mind that status emails like this get sent out, but in this scenario.. it’s just not valuable. Is it necessary to communicate that nothing has happened?1 To be fair, Venmo is in beta and is working out the kinks. They are far from the only service that does this, they just happen to be the one that triggered this post (which I will be pointing them to). :-)

There’s a ton of information being sent to people’s inboxes every day. When we decide to communicate with our users, we should be mindful of the value of the information as well as how and when we ask for their attention. Is the email useful? Is it actionable? Or is it just undesired noise?

1 Context is fundamental here. If you’re a sales manager and your sales team has had zero sales… this might be valuable information.

Photo  |  Misc

Macintosh Platform can not support our site

6 Jun 2010

Macintosh Platform can not support our site

Our healthcare provider’s employer web interface for making online payments is using the latest in web technology…

My favorite is that the, “Macintosh Platform can not support the site” versus… they haven’t taken the time to support the Macintosh platform.

Photo  |  Misc

mySIGN-IN

3 Jun 2010

mySIGN-IN

While attempting to pay my cable internet bill… I found myself faced with Comcast’s sign in screen. I can’t help but wonder how much effort went into branding their sign in process with mySIGN-IN. Does their online account system really need a branded name (that you then have to explain what it is?) when they could probably suffice with, “Sign into your Comcast online account.” Not only that, someone had to design the graphics. Someone(s) had to approve the lower case “my” and the all-caps SIGN-IN. I’m baffled. The end-result? I wasn’t able to sign in with my email and password… and am now waiting for them to send me a PIN via snail-mail, which is something I’ll write about another time.

Photo  |  Misc

Switching internet providers

21 Jan 2010

Switching internet providers

This discussion between Carlos and I took place on Campfire last week. As you can see, our internet connection is now much faster.

One of gripes with our old building was that we only had a few DSL options to choose from. Our internet at work was always sluggish. When we found our new place we were pleased to find out that we could switch over to Comcast Business as an internet provider. We were also able to move our phone lines to them, which means we’ve consolidated three bills into one… and the best part? We’re saving $50/month now.

Article  |  Misc

Portland Revealed: Episode 5: Places to Work

16 May 2007

Let’s face it, there is always work to be done… and if you find yourself in need of a table, a chair, and some free wifi, be sure to check out some of our favorite spots.

Cafés and coffee shops

  • Urban Grind – There are two in town, and while we prefer the one in NE, the location in the Pearl is easier to get to and not crawling with kids. The NE spot, however, is bigger and they have extension cords running throughout. The coffee is decent, and they do have some food options. The NE location is open until 4pm, and in the Pearl you can stay until 9pm through Saturday, and 7pm on Sunday.
  • Costello’s Travel Caffe – Costello’s may be small, but it is one of my favorite places in town to do a bit of work. The coffee is good, the food is tasty, and the music is almost always excellent. Plus, they have these wonderful flat screen tvs showing scenes from the day’s chosen cities. They are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 10pm and Sunday from 9-5.
  • World Cup – Be sure to check out the World Cup at the Ecotrust building in the Pearl (also home to Hot Lips Pizza, yum) for good coffee and free wifi. There is outdoor seating as well. I haven’t been there, but I have heard that the NW 18th location has more outlets.

Late night hacking?

  • Nob Hill Pharmacy Cafe – Located on NW 21st, Pharmacy is probably Portland’s favorite 24 hour coffee shop. There is lots of seating to be found, but it does fill up quick. When you are done working, there are bars aplenty, in nearly every direction. I recommend the Zesty Cucumber martini at Bartini just next door.
  • Backspace – Backspace is one of my favorite places is Portland, and not because it’s right around the corner from the office. Backspace is open until 2am, for you night owls. If you read our last installment of Portland Revealed, you will know that this is one spot to grab a Viso Vigor. Easy to get to by bus, but be warned, our neighborhood is currently a construction site. Don’t let that stop you from checking out Backspace, though. Hey, and if you need a break from work, head over to Ground Kontrol for some old (and some new) school arcade games. Want a glass of wine while you work, two doors down is Someday Lounge, a great new bar brought to you by the Backspace brothers and then some. It is easily one of my favorite bars in Portland.
  • Fireside Lodge – The Fireside may not be ideal, but they are open 24 hours and it is usually a little less crowded than Pharmacy. The service is usually friendly, and the coffee is okay (but not great).

Your office away from the office

  • Cubespace – Site of Portland’s first Barcamp, I had the chance to check out Cubespace last weekend. In fact, it was my first experience working in a cube, and while it may not be ideal for an everyday sort of thing, the space was pretty great for what I needed. Rent a cube for $10/hour or $40/day. They even have a soda fountain serving RC Cola and a cheerio/m&m dispenser.
  • Souk – I haven’t been to Souk, which is right down the street from our office, but I know they are similar to Cubespace. I believe the desks are not cubed in, which means a little less privacy, but certainly less distractions than a coffee shop. Souk’s hotdesks are available for $10/hour.

Coding in the sunshine

  • Pioneer Courthouse Square – Want to sit in the sun and work? Head down to Pioneer Courthouse Square (right on the MAX line), where you can enjoy being surrounded by downtown Portland and get free wifi.
  • Couch Park – One of several Portland parks that has free wifi, though I can’t say I have tested it. Couch Park is in the lovely NW neighborhood with coffee, tea, and bars all nearby. Couch Park is also near a bus line, so it is easy to get to.

Not enough?

Continue Reading

Article  |  Misc

Portland Revealed: Episode 4: Stay Awake During RailsConf

16 May 2007

It was just two years ago that I discovered local beverage company, Viso (Visoda at the time), makers of the popular Vigor energy drink. It has since become a staple in the PLANET ARGON offices.

“Its cheaper than a mocha, has more caffeine, and has vitamins so I don’t end up in catatonic state after coding for 20 hours straight.” — Alain Bloch, Rails Developer, PLANET ARGON

Organically sweet, available at our neighborhood coffee shop (and most nearby markets and grocers), and chocked full of caffeine. 300mg, to be precise. You read that right, 300! According to the bottle sitting on my desk, that is the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee. But don’t worry, it’s all organic, so it’s good for you… right? ;-)

Great Wall of Viso

Viso beverages taste great and are nothing like regular energy drinks. They’re sweet (but not too sweet), non-carbonated, and full of vitamins. You can also get a sugar free version, called Will. Non-caffeinated varieties available too. You’ll likely see me wandering the conference floors with one in my hand.

Where to get Viso?

  • Order online (website designed by Portland locals, Needmore Designs)
  • Backspace (where we often buy it.. 1/2 block away from our office)
  • Several smaller markets (think that 7-11 is carrying it now too)
  • Bars (some bars now make Vigor-based hard drinks!)
    As you can see, we take our Viso drinking… very seriously.

Alain gets desperate

Consider this a friendly tip from the locals, if you need a little pick me up that you can carry around in your bag, grab yourself a Vigor and join the ranks of the Portland caffeinated.

“Viso makes me feel alive again!” — Chris Griffin, User Interface Design, PLANET ARGON

Continue Reading

Article  |  Misc

Portland Revealed: Episode 3: Get outdoors

11 May 2007

In Portland Revealed: Episode 1, Gary gave a quick overview of some of Portland’s finer points. In this episode, we’ll go into more detail about some of the things to do outside while at the conference. We know at least a few of you are planning on spending a few days before and/or after the conference soaking up the city and surrounding areas that wanted to explore the lovely outdoor parts of Portland.

It’s springtime in Portland and the weather has been great the past few weeks for lacing up your boots, running or walking shoes up and hitting the paths. We’ve kept this list to places within the city limits and easy to get to for conference goers.

Hit the (dirt) trails at Forest Park

It would a crime to not begin this list with Forest Park, Portland’s pride and joy. As Gary mentioned in Episode 1, Forest Park is the largest, forested natural area within city limits in the United States. Since many of you will be taking advantage of our excellent public transportation system, you can actually get to several trails via Tri-Met, both the MAX and by bus.

You could spend days wandering around all of the trails here. A few of us at PLANET ARGON have been known to go hiking and running around Forest Park in the afternoons/early evenings after a nice, long day of working with Ruby on Rails.

Gary running through Forest Park
Gary Blessington, Director of Design and Development at PLANET ARGON, seen running through Forest Park earlier this week with his dogs

For more information about Forest Park, visit Friends of Forest Park.

Pound the pavement at Waterfront Park

Just a quick jaunt from the conference center and you’ll find yourself at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, on the Willamette River (pronounced wil-LAM-met). If you are a runner, try the waterfront run for an breezy 2.5 miles, which takes you down waterfront park, across the Hawthorne Bridge, up the Eastbank Esplanade, and back across the steel bridge. For more information and directions, visit here.

Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park

If it’s sunny out, Waterfront Park also makes for a great place to lounge on the grass with a good book.

Climb your way up to Mt. Tabor Park

If you make it farther into SE Portland, you might head over to Mt. Tabor Park, which sits atop an extinct volcano cinder cone. Don’t worry, we’re not expecting it to come back to life anytime soon, but be sure to check out the cinders “near the peak, where a basketball court and outdoor amphitheater are now situated, part of the cinder cone has been cut away, and is visible to park visitors. The remaining cinders were used to pave the nearby parking lot” (via wikipedia). Mt. Tabor is great for picnics, going for a jog, walking the dog, and getting a nice view of Downtown Portland (but you’ll have to make it to the top for this one). You can take the buses directly there, which makes it very accessible and a favorite among the locals.

Mt. Tabor
View of Downtown Portland from Mt. Tabor

Take a stroll through Washington Park

Lastly, for those of you looking for a more leisurely walk though a park packed with extra amenities, make your way to Washington Park in SW Portland. You can get there by bus, or MAX, with the Washington Park MAX station being the deepest transit station in North America, at 260 feet below ground!

Peaceful day
Trails at Washington Park

If the trails aren’t enough to keep you busy, you will not be short of things to do. Washington Park is home to the Oregon Zoo, the World Forestry Center, the Portland Japanese Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, and the International Rose Test Garden, with more than 700 varieties of roses. It’s just about to hit its peak of the season, so all you flower lovers, this is the perfect time! Best of all, the view of downtown from the Rose Garden is stunning, and on a clear day you can get a great view of Mt. Hood.

Feeling brazen?

If you have a lot of free time, check out the 40-Mile Loop and let us know how it is. ;-)

We hope that you all enjoy Portland as much we do!

Continue Reading

Article  |  Misc

Portland Revealed: Episode 2: Beertown

10 May 2007

RailsConf 2007 is just over a week away, and we have been asking ourselves “what should any new visitor to Portland know when they arrive?” Our answer? Where to get a pint (or three) of good Portland beer. In this second episode of Portland Revealed, we’re going to help you find some of the best beer in town.

Many of you might not know that Portland has more local breweries than any other city in the world. In fact, just a few months ago, Tom Potter, Mayor of Portland, dubbed Portland (also known as the City of Roses) Beertown. “According to the Oregon Brewers Guild, no matter where you are in Portland, you’re never more than 15 minutes from a craft brewery.” Oregon consumes more local craft beer than any other state in the country. 11% of the beer guzzled in Oregon is local, where the national average is only 3.5%! There is no doubt that we Oregonians (natives and transplants alike), love us some good local beer, and we think you’ll love our beer too!

Full sail

While in Portland, we suggest you take some time to get acquainted with our city’s beer options. We thought we’d help you get started by sharing some of our favorite spots (and most offer free wifi).

McMenamin’s – A Portland staple, McMenamin’s can’t be overlooked. Our favorites spots for just a beer are The White Eagle and Ringler’s Annex. For beer, pizza and movies, check out Kennedy School in NE (the theater has sofas!) and the Bagdad theater on Hawthorne. Be sure to try their Ruby ale… and if you are feeling particularly Portlandish… ask for a Rubinator.

Laurelhurst – Another great beer, pizza, and movies spot on 28th and E Burnside.

Tugboat – Just around the corner from PAHQ, jvoorhis was the first to recommend this spot and it’s Alain’s favorite. Feeling brave? Try the Chernobyl Stout.

New Old Lompoc – great outside patio in NW Portland, though this place gets packed pretty quickly on a sunny day. I am all about the Centennial IPA, "a classic Northwest IPA. Nicely balanced and easy drinking with all the hop flavors that Portlanders insist on.

Rogue – Wouldn’t be a list of Portland beer without Rogue.

Bridgeport – They claim to be the oldest craft brew in Oregon, and certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.

Widmer Brothers – Want to drink Robby style? Order a Hefeweizen with lemon!

Moon and Sixpence – If you’re just looking for a good English Pub to get a pint, Gary suggests the Moon and Sixpence in NE Portland, which is where he meets his fellow ex-pats meet to discuss the latest in the rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United.

Laurelwood – Two locations, though we recommend the one in NW (unless you like a more family style atmosphere). They also have good food. Yum!

A Roadside Attraction – You might not guess it from driving by, but Daniel swears by this spot for a pint and a patio. Plus, it’s non-smoking.

Lucky Lab – this is where PDX.rb meets after monthly meetings. There are several locations, but our favorite is the original on Hawthorne. If you’re feeling in the mood for a pint of beer and a cookie, this is the spot!

Beer and Cookie

A Pint at PDX?

Want to start your visit to Portland off right? Grab a pint at PDX at one of three spots. And remember, free wifi at the airport. Portland knows it’s priorities. ;-)

Other Beer Resources (Beersources?)

If you are interested in grabbing a beer with some of us during the conference, stop by our IRC channel or contact us on our site (select “RailsConf Meetup” for the inquiry reason).

Continue Reading

Article  |  Misc

Rails the #1 technology to know in 2007?

19 Mar 2007

Earlier today, ComputerWorld published an article that lists what they believe are The Top Five Technologies You Need to Know About in ’07. In this article they list the following.

Five Hot Technologies for 2007

  1. Ruby on Rails – Faster, easier Web development
  2. NAND drives -Bye-bye, HDD?
  3. Ultra-Wideband – 200x personal-area networking
  4. Hosted hardware – Supercomputing for the masses
  5. Advanced CPU architectures – Penryn, Fusion and more

That’s right! You might have noticed that ComputerWorld has named Ruby on Rails, our development framework of choice, as the top technology to know about in 2007!

“Equal parts design philosophy and development environment, Rails offers developers a few key code-level advantages when constructing database-backed Web applications. One of the central tenets emphasizes using less code for application development by avoiding redundancy and following Rails conventions. This means increased performance and, ideally, decreased development times.”

It’s great to see that the technology that we decided to adopt over two years ago is still making big headlines!

Continue Reading

Article  |  Misc

Portland Revealed: Episode 1

19 Feb 2007

Although Railsconf is still three months away, people are already planning for what should be a great four days of learning, networking and, of course, fun.

What makes this year’s conference even more special is that it is in our home town of Portland. For those of you who have yet to visit, you’re in for a treat. For a somewhat small city, it certainly has a lot going on. Perhaps the most attractive aspect, to many people like myself, is the abundance of outdoor activities. Having access to countless trails, skiing and more, all within an hour or so drive, makes it a great place to live.

While you may not get time to head out of town to wander around the Gorge, its easy enough to get over to Forest Park, which is a great place for walking, running and cycling. It includes over 5,100 wooded acres making it the largest, forested natural area within city limits in the United States. More than enough space to wander around while you absorb what you learned at the conference.

Bicyclists

Cyclists can rent from various places around town, with Fat Tire Farm being the closest to the park. Its actually on the same road as one of the entrances to a good cycling trail, which can be accessed by heading west on Thurman St. However, they do not take reservations and it is first come, first served. Getting over there from the Convention Center is also very easy, with Portland’s excellent public transport system. Most of the downtown area is covered by a fareless square, which means you can take the Max, for free, over to west Burnside, then catch the 15 bus over to NW 23rd.

We hope you’ll enjoy Portland as much as you enjoy the conference itself!

Continue Reading

Have a project that needs help?

New Call-to-action